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Palace rules out suspension of fuel taxes amid unabated increases

The Duterte administration maintains that the imposition of the excise tax on oil cannot be suspended despite rising oil prices as the tax will fund government programs, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.

"Hindi nagbabago ang posisyon ng Pangulo (Rodrigo Duterte) noong Marso sa ngayon, ganun rin sa economic team, na huwag suspendihin ang excise tax on fuel kasi ang makokolekta rito ay naibudget na para sa sweldo ng mga guro, Build, Build, Build, at iba pang programa ng pamahalaan," Andanar said during Tuesday's  Palace briefing.

(The President and his economic team have not wavered in their position, dating back to March, that we cannot suspend the imposition of the excise tax on fuel because it will fund the salaries of teachers; the Build, Build, Build and other government programs.)

Andanar said it was up to the incoming administration of President-elect Bongbong Marcos to decide if it will stick with the policy.

"We leave it to them to decide," he added.

Oil prices have ranged from P70 to P80 per liter.

As this developed, Andanar also said the increase in the number of hungry families at 12.2% or 31 million families from 11.8% in the last quarter amid the lingering pandemic was also due to rising oil prices.

"Tumaas po ang presyo ng langis sa pandaigdigang merkado dahil sa giyera sa pagitan ng Ukraine at Russia," Andanar said.

(Global prices of oil increased due to armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.)

He was referring to the war which stemmed from Russia's unprovoked assault on Ukraine's separatist territories, prompting other countries to impose economic sanctions on Russia, including cutting gas pipelines.

Andanar, however, maintained that the Duterte administration made significant efforts in addressing hunger.

"The President formed the InterAgency Task Force on Zero Hunger under Executive Order 101 last January 2020, and this [Task Force] included initiatives such as Gulayan sa Barangay at Pamayanan and other livelihood projects to decrease hunger incidence among families," Andanar said.

"This is why this 12.2% is still lower than the 16% hungry families recorded in the last quarter of 2020," Andanar added. — DVM, GMA News